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Snake handling course

03 September 2023

A demanding way to spend your weekend

While at the Amphibian Foundation at the end of my trip to the USA, I took advantage of an offer to conduct a snake handling course (level 1) that they offer (see here). I've been in situations that have called for venomous snake handling in the past, and have always felt a little under prepared. Now with the course completed I know how to be safer when faced with a venomous snake on the ground, and a group of people that want it moved away.

Looking a little overgrown (after 2 months in the field without a haircut), I was outfitted with gaiters to prevent fangs going through my trousers. Guided by a set of expert instructors I learned how to handle heavy snakes on hooks (notice the braced position of the hooks under the forearms), and importantly how to safely get the snake into a tied bag and sealed bucket keeping it more than arms length at all times. 

Being in Atlanta, we became familiar with several of the regions most venomous snakes including the Eastern Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus - above), the Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus  - below). 

As you can see, the snakes were all very beautiful and it was a great pleasure working with them. Carefully following each of the steps according to instructions allowed us to bag up the snakes in a very safe manor. Run by the Rattlesnake Conservancy, these courses offer experienced and professional tuition in a relaxed and friendly environment.

As you can see, I gained my certificate of competence and feel a lot more confident about how to tackle venomous snakes in future.

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